But the change could also bring risks for Apple: The company has steadliy lost developers and market share since its move to PowerPC processors a decade ago.

Indeed, Jobs spent a good deal of his presentation wooing developers, assuring them that Apple was doing its part to make the coming transition as painless as possible. The latest version of its coding software will allow developers to save their programs in versions for both PowerPC and Intel chips. The company also has developed emulation software that will allow PowerPC-based programs to run on its forthcoming Intel machines.

In addition, the changeover could lead to increased competition. Because the company will be offering a version of its operating system that runs on Intel-based machines, customers could conceivably install it on computers that Apple doesn't manufacture. Such sales could potentially cut into Apple's own computer sales.

Although Apple is garnering increasing revenue from its iPod music players, computer sales still accounted for 46% of overall revenue in the first half of its current fiscal year.

Apple representatives didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

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